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Unformatted text preview: Self-Regulation Processes and Health: The Importance of Optimism and Goal Adjustment Heather N. Rasmussen, 1 Carsten Wrosch, 2 Michael F. Scheier, 3 and Charles S. Carver 4 1 University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University 2 Concordia University 3 Carnegie Mellon University 4 University of Miami ABSTRACT This article discusses how self-regulatory models can be used to understand peoples response to health threats. The article begins with a general discussion of the principles and assumptions of self-reg- ulatory models of behavior. Two distinct lines of research are then pre- sented addressing two important processes of adaptive self-regulation. First, we provide a brief overview of the literature on optimism and ad- justment to chronic disease and other health outcomes. Second, we present an overview of the process of disengagement from unattainable goals, focusing on recent research. We close by making recommendations for future research. The purpose of this article is to discuss some of the ways in which self-regulatory models of behavior can help us understand peoples responses to health threats. This article begins with a general dis- cussion of a set of orienting assumptions and principles embedded in models of self-regulation of behavior, placing the heaviest emphasis on our own approach. We then describe two distinct lines of research Preparation of this article was supported in part by grants from the Canadian Insti- tutes of Health Research, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Can- ada, Fonds de la recherche sur la socie te et la culture, Que bec and by NIH grants HL65111, HL65112, HL076858, HL076852, HL07560, CA64710, CA78995, and CA84944. Correspondence concerning this article may be sent to: Heather N. Rasmussen, Institute for Educational Research & Public Policy, 1122 West Campus Road, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66045. E-mail: email@example.com. Journal of Personality 74:6, December 2006 r 2006, Copyright the Authors Journal compilation r 2006, Blackwell Publishing, Inc. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-6494.2006.00426.x examining adaptive self-regulation. First, we discuss findings involv- ing one aspect of effective self-regulation, focusing there on the relationship between dispositional optimism and adjustment to chronic disease and responses to health threats. Since the persistent pursuit of personal goals is only one part of adaptive self-regulation, we then consider the equally important process of disengaging from important goals by focusing on the recent literature on these issues. BEHAVIORAL SELF-REGULATION What do we mean by the term behavioral self-regulation? When we use this term, we are referring to processes by which behavior hap- pens. We believe that human behavior is a continual process of moving toward and away from different kinds of mentally repre- sented goals. The idea that human behavior is organized around goals is common among personality theorists (Austin & Vancouver,...
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